The Isle Of Wight Randonnee in May was the first time I had cycled the Island and my glowing endorsement had Mrs B eager to try the roads I had enthused about. With a September forecast predicting a temperature of 24C, clear skies and no wind the alarm was set for an early start.
The day did not start well, arriving at the ferry terminal at Lymington at 8-45 we had just missed the boat and had to wait until 10.00 for the next one as they are now running on the winter schedule.
The Isle of Wight Cycling Festival advertised sponsorship by and discounted travel on Wightlink but nobody told the ticket clerk and after grumbling about the cost Mrs B suggested a coffee while we wait for our crossing. This proved beneficial as I came across a leaflet for the event in the carousel so with evidence in print of advertised discounts Mrs B returned to get reimbursed with our £6 discount.
Arriving at Yarmouth we planned a clockwise 1/2 loop with a lunch stop and then afternoon coffee, cake and a good natter at my brother’s house at Freshwater. The Round The Island cycle route is very well signed with different colours denoting clockwise and anti-clockwise so with the backup of a Goldeneye map we set off.
The route sticks to mainly secondary lanes and gives access to the smaller normally unseen hamlets, Thorly, Wellow and Newbridge before turning north towards Newtown and Porchfield. The quiet roads were a joy to cycle and the miles just fly by. The sign announcing Bunts Hill had Mrs B imagining a Cat 1 climb but it was barely an undulation and the run to Gurnard had us back at sea level. Along the coast road to Cowes we were distracted by a very nice ketch rigged boat that we had overtaken on the ferry crossing, all sails had been taken down as he was under engine making slow progress against the tide. At Cowes a short sharp climb and we then found Cycle Route 23 to Newport, a nice three mile stretch of flat tarmac that provides a popular route along the River Medina for cyclists, joggers and dog walkers.
After winding our way through Newport we took the road to Carrisbrooke, up past the castle and then the B3323 to Shorwell, the undulating road gradually climbed to Cleverton before a fast steep descent into the Village of Shorwell. A right turn onto the B3399, through Limerstone and our lunch stop was on the radar at Brightstone. The Three Bishops provided a good lunch at a reasonable price in lovely surroundings and the warm sun and a full stomach proved a wrench to get the legs turning again.
The area from Brightstone to Freshwater is probably my favourite stretch, through Mottistone and Brook and a road sign is the closest I have ever come to seeing a red squirrel on the Island. Out onto the Military Road and a fist sight of the white cliffs that are a distinctive feature of the Southern coastline. The long climb up to Compton Down actually looks worse than it is and the top provides a Kodak moment before another fast descent into Freshwater.
With the thermometer reading 24C in the September sun we made our way to my brothers house and coffee and cake. The final run into Yarmouth was downhill most of the way and the sight of the ferry signalled the end of a very enjoyable day.
While waiting for the ferry we were watching a yacht enter the marina and ended up taking the lines and helping them tie up against the piles on the harbour wall. I could have stayed there chatting for ages but sadly the ferry would not wait and all to soon we were back on our way to the mainland.
A great day out, nice cycling and my compliments to the majority of cars and lorry drivers we met who were very patient and considerate, perhaps the pace of life reflects in driving standards.